Do I have tight hamstrings? The 'normal' range of hip flexion (measured when laying flat on your back and raising the leg straight off the floor, knees straight) permitted by the hamstrings, is in the region of 80-90 degrees. Anything less than 80 degrees is considered 'tight'.
What happens if I have tight hamstrings? Many people suffer with tight hamstrings. Most of the time they will not cause a problem but may be prone to tearing and contribute towards injuries such as lower back pain and posterior knee pain, and also may limit your sporting performance. Tight hamstrings can also be responsible for postural problems and other back problems such as sacroiliac joint pain (joints located at the very bottom of your back), as they will tend to pull the pelvis out of normal position.
Why do I have tight hamstrings? Firstly, there may be genetic reasons. You can be born with naturally short hamstrings. In general women and children are more supple than men. Secondly it could be that you don’t stretch enough. If you participate in a lot of sport and do not stretch properly then you are more likely to have your hamstrings tighten up. It is especially important to stretch properly after exercise as this is when the muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching. Problems in your lower back can put pressure on your sciatic nerve which runs down the legs and cause muscles to tighten.
What can I do to stretch my tight hamstrings? You can stretch your hamstrings daily, or to start, at least a couple of times a week.
Standing Hamstring Stretch Stand with your left foot one step ahead of your right foot. Bend your right knee and let it take the weight. Keep your left knee straight and lift your left toes into the air (keeping the heel on the floor). Keep your back straight and lean forward from your hips (rest your hands on the straight leg). Feel the stretch in your hamstrings (back of the thigh) for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat by switching legs.